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Almost better than any film adaption of a comic book, is the anticipation built up from the viral campaigns which leak out from the silver tap of Hollywood.
The internet has become a bridge which connects the public to their childhood memories and marketing agencies are quick to pounce on our nostalgia in the form of videos, online games and interactive websites which slowly reveal the next major blockbuster. In the past decade, the internet has assisted in marketing the release of a number of comic book films. Memeburn decided to take a look at some of the best.
1. The Dark Knight Returns
The sequel to Batman Begins was one of the most-hyped movies in existence, yet without the internet most of this hype would have failed to reach its intended audience. The marketing campaigns included a website called WhySoSerious.com which asked fans to seek out and email letters which made up a message from the Joker, these letters then became the basis of a collage which led to a teaser trailer and an image of the Joker. The opening montage of the film was ‘leaked’ onto the internet. In reality, this was a carefully planned publicity stunt; the opening moments of the film itself appeared as an extra on the Batman Begins Blu-ray.
2. The Dark Knight Rises
As seen in an earlier article, the yet-to-be released film used Twitter to generate an enormous collage which became the very first image of Batman’s nemesis, Bane. This involved a complicated method of decoding an audio stream from thedarkknightrises.com which produced a link to a hidden twitter account. The darkknightrises.com now hosts the very first trailer and a poster of the movie.
3. Green Lantern
While the movie may have had underwhelming returns at the box office, the online campaign associated with it was both intelligent and interactive. Readers of the comic book series who visited this website, which was listed in a ‘genuine’ print advert, would be drawn into the interactions between the film’s Dr. Waller and the thousands of other readers who had found the website.
Discussions never broke the fourth wall and readers of the website became drawn into the intrigue of the hidden world of Green Lantern. Alongside this, an augmented reality application, which was built into movie posters and magazine adverts, allowed readers to book tickets online simply by using their iPhone and Android applications.
4. Captain America
This exciting new film stirred up the spirit of patriotism by offering a free online game called “Wield the Shield” which did a great job of targeting fans of the Captain. The website itself contained exclusive images from the film as well as icons that could be used to spruce up your desktop. Other viral websites included “Hunt the Red Skull” – in conjunction with the website and real-world codes obtained from Wrigley’s products, it became possible to win US$100 000.
5. Hellboy 2
This was certainly not the most well-known comic book adaption, yet the movie remains a fun romp in the realm of the impossible. The viral campaign was a simple one; the titular character Hellboy was crammed into as many pop culture videos as possible and these were spread out across the internet months before the movie began. There were many videos, all mysterious but the pick of the bunch was a full-length prelude cartoon which acted as a bridge between the first film and the sequel.
6. Iron Man 2
The ever reliable source for superhero rumours, Superherohype posted an image of a newspaper clipping which turned out to be artwork from the film itself. The clipping appeared on the wall of the villain Whiplash’s home and could be seen at the beginning of the movie. The names in the clippings, “N.King” and “P.Buckner” turned out to be the film’s art directors.
This film, which drew its inspiration from an independent Mark Miller comic was not only shot on a budget, but received a thrifty viral marketing campaign — as with all the best campaigns, it managed to effectively raise sufficient levels of hype in a relatively short space of time. An assortment of videos attempted to show how there could be superheros in real life and this was done by placing actors in the Kick-Ass suit and making them run through random cities, such as this one in Berlin:
8. Cowboys and Aliens
Rounding off our collection of online viral marketing methods is this off-the-wall offering from Cowboys and Aliens. The makers of the movie teamed up with TelegramStop to offer five free emails to telegrams. This was performed by using a special promotion code which was taken from their Twitter feed or from their official website. In order to complete the cycle of viral marketing, the telegram included the release date of the film as well as branding and images of the two main actors, Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. The cost is normally US$6 to send, but Cowboys and Aliens managed to cover the cost of all deliveries